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  Social Responsibility

Rural Development
Published on: Sept. 12, 2020, 10:03 p.m.
CRISIL serves hope to the pandemic-hit
  • Gram Sahay is a dedicated helpline for ‘Sakhis’ to share information

By Sekhar Seshan. Consulting Editor, Business India

With no one being really sure how the Covid-19 pandemic will end, CRISIL saw that it was the time for the credit rating agency to roll up its collective sleeves and get to work serving those who had been affected the most.

“We wasted no time in identifying these sections,” says CRISIL managing director and CEO Ashu Suyash. “The nation-wide lockdown that began in late March affected the lives of daily wagers badly. Hunger was looming large and we had to serve the best way we can.”

The CRISIL Foundation launched a ‘10K meals project’ by re-opening its corporate kitchen in Mumbai, which had been closed because of the lockdown. It has since helped serve over half a million meals at 15 locations across the city through a network of NGOs and CRISIL employees.

CRISIL India also collaborated with its parent S&P Global’s own foundation to distribute meals and dry-ration and sanitation kits across India through the Akshaya Patra Foundation and Sambhav Foundation/LabourNet. Through this, it has collaborated with others to serve nearly a million meals and distribute 17,000-plus kits to migrant workers and daily-wage earners.

A lot of information is coming in on the pandemic and the Indian government has swung into action, but everyone all over the world, from governments to central banks and frontline workers to corporates, is still fighting the war against the virus. This made CRISIL Foundation realise the need to intervene in raising awareness, in terms of both reaching government schemes and relief measures to remote corners of the country and improving digital literacy.

The organisation set up ‘Gram Sahay’, a dedicated helpline for its on-ground staff and community cadre of ‘Sakhis’ – the frontline force in rural Assam, Haryana, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan – to share information on Covid-19 hygiene protocol and the government relief packages to beneficiaries.

The Sakhis continue to sensitise beneficiaries and communities on various banking, social security and government schemes. The cadre has been promoting the use of digital banking to minimise attempts of fraudulent transactions and sensitising the communities to follow health protocols while accessing banking facilities.

CRISIL has also tied up with an innovation fund working to strengthen healthcare infrastructure by supporting focussed solutions like oxygen therapy for Covid-19 patients in Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Delhi. “The pandemic has been a clarion call to us for responsible corporate citizenship,” says the Foundation’s chief operating officer Maya Vengurlekar.

CRISIL’s flagship CSR programme Mein Pragati meanwhile continues to be engaged in building financial resilience among women from remote, rural villages of Assam and Rajasthan. Over the past five years, it claims to have strengthened the financial capabilities of over 160,000 women in self-help groups.

Crisil spent Rs7.61 crore on its CSR initiatives in financial year 2019, higher than the prescribed limit that is linked to profits.

“The pandemic may have changed the way we live, but not our values, especially of easing the lives of the disadvantaged and those at high risk,” Suyash adds.


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